Spice rubbed pork shoulder with posole

Ennui. No, it’s not a type of sausage or that tingling pain you get in your legs if you sit for too long. It’s a feeling of listlessness, lethargy and lassitude. A cloud of dissatisfaction that hangs over life. It’s marked by a tendency to gaze out the window and sigh for no reason at all.

Sure, winter doesn’t help. Winter doesn’t help anything unless you’re a hibernating bear or sell ski equipment. We’re fed up, longing for the lazy-crazy-hazy days of summer when we spent our days barbecuing meat, veg, the dog’s chew toy and our boots (the last two, just because we could).

That was life. This is like being forced to watch an Ingmar Bergman movie on repeat.

The solution? There isn’t one. There’s not a pill you can take or mantra you can chant. It just is. The good news? One day it will be gone. Poof! And suddenly you’ll make a tentative foray out of your reclining chair with the chip and dip tray and actually take the garbage out. Respect!

Rub the pork with the spice mix the day before cooking.

But in the meantime, cook large pots of comfort food to see you through your existential crisis. It won’t cure anything but it might – just might – lift your spirits a bit.

Serves 4-6

3 ½ lb boneless pork shoulder

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp sea salt

¼ tsp ground ginger

½ tsp ground cumin

2 tsp sugar

¼ tsp Ancho chile powder

½ tsp Chipotle powder

½ tsp Chimayo blend chile powder

1-12 oz package of White corn posole

2 Chile pods such as Ancho and New Mexico red

1 large garlic clove

Garnishes: chopped avocado, sliced radishes, cilantro, chopped green onions

Mix together the spices, salt, sugar and chile powders and rub on all sides of the pork shoulder. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap or place in a container with a lid. Pop in the refrigerator and let it do its thing overnight. Next, place the posole in a non-reactive bowl, cover with water and soak overnight.

The next day, pre-heat the oven to 425ºF. Take the pork out of the refrigerator and let come to room temperature. Remove the plastic wrap (if using) and sprinkle generously with sea salt. Place in an ovenproof casserole dish and put in the pre-heated oven and roast for 20 minutes.

Reduce the temperature to 225ºF, cover with a lid and continue to cook for another 4-5 hours or until the meat is tender and flakes away easily.

Spear the garlic with a toothpick so you can find it easily in the cooked posole.

While the pork is cooking, make the posole. Bring a pan of water to the boil, add the posole, then simmer for around 2-3 hours. After an hour or so, add the 2 chile pods and the peeled garlic clove. Stick a toothpick through the garlic clove to make it easy to retrieve once cooking is done.

Shred the cooked meat, discarding most of the fat (come on – it’s the best part). Mix with the pan cooking juices and return the oven to high heat and cook for another 10 minutes or so, until most of the liquid is absorbed. Drain the posole. Serve a generous ladleful of posole with some of the pulled pork and your choice of garnishes.

 

Dark Chocolate Chile Brownies

I think that the world would be a better place if we only ate more chocolate. You laugh, but I’ve got science on my side. Chocolate contains things with long names that do things to our brains that make us happy. Hope that wasn’t too technical? And yes, I could go into more detail but I’ve got a chile business to run, so just trust me, okay?

And everyone knows that chiles are good for you (natch) so if you combine the two, then you basically have world peace on a plate. I’d best get a tux and my acceptance speech ready for my Nobel Peace Prize. I’m so excited.

Now, chocolate and chile isn’t a new combination. Montezuma drank his hot chocolate with chile in it and mole is a splendid concoction of yumminess featuring – yep, you guessed it – chile and chocolate. So it only made sense to bring these two star-crossed lovers together in a chocolate brownie.

It’s got habanero for heat, chipotle for smokiness and our Chimayo blend because I never can leave well enough alone.

Makes 1-8×8” pan

4 oz (½ cup) unsalted butter + extra to grease the pan

2 oz. dark chocolate

1 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs, beaten

1 tsp vanilla

1/8 – ¼ tsp Chile Habanero powder (depending how hot you like it)

½ tsp Chile Chipotle powder

½ tsp Chile Chimayo blend chile powder

¾ cup sifted flour

½ cup walnuts or pecans, toasted (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°

Grease an 8×8” pan.

Place the butter and chocolate in a bowl and set over a pan of simmering water to melt. Remove and stir in the sugar – it will look like grainy chocolate sand, but don’t worry. Slowly mix in the eggs. Then add the vanilla and the three chile powders. Gently fold in the flour and finally the nuts.

Gently fold in the flour — you’re not trying to beat it to death

Spread into the prepared pan. Place in the oven and check after 15 minutes, turning the pan if need be. The brownies are done, when they start to pull away from the pan slightly and a metal skewer inserted in the center of the pan is hot to the touch. Total cooking time should be about 20 minutes. Remove and place on a cooling rack. Slice and serve.

Ready to go into the oven.

 

 

 

 

Chipotle roasted pumpkin with borlotti beans, green onions and avocado

Go ahead. Say it. I know you’re thinking it, so might as well. You think I’m a curmudgeon. A party pooper. A kill joy. See that wasn’t so difficult was it? And all because of one simple thing: I’ve had it up to here with Halloween.

I can hear the collective gasps. The shaking of heads. The pursing of lips and knowing glances. But if I’m the Ebenezer Scrooge of Halloween, then so be it. Halloween? No thanks.

What’s my problem? It’s simple. Halloween has gone way overboard and OTT. It used to be kids dressed up in homemade costumes. Bobbing for apples. Ghost stories and pillow cases to hold candy. It was simple, sweet and fun.

But today? Today it’s a competitive sport. Costumes are more tricked out than outfits on the Paris runway. No more pillow cases (heaven forbid) – now we’re talking about the equivalent of a Gucci handbag to hold candy. And don’t get me started on the lights, the gigantic tombstones and spiders that decorate front yards. It makes the Macy’s Day parade look like a small town country fair.

I could almost stomach it until the time a kid stuck his hand in the bowl of candy and grabbed a whopping handful and wouldn’t let go. His parents smiled proudly. So this year, I’m closing the curtains, turning off the lights and hunkering down until it’s all over.

The only pumpkin at my place will be this chipotle roasted pumpkin with borlotti beans. I’ll serve it with a sassy glass of red (or two) and wait until the kids are gone, Halloween is over and it’s safe to go outside. Halloween? Bah humbug.

Chipotle roasted pumpkin with borlotti beans, green onions & avocado

Serves 4

Don’t use the pumpkin you’d use for carving. Instead, look for a small pumpkin like the ‘Uchiki Kuri’, also known as the Winter, Onion, Hokkaido or Potimarron squash. It has a gorgeous yellowy-orange flesh with a lovely sweetness. If you can’t find that, then try a silvery-blue-skinned ‘Crown Prince’ or even a butternut squash.

Preheat oven to 425°

1 small pumpkin, about 1 ½ lbs

½ – 1 tsp Chipotle rub & mix

½ tsp Chimayo blend chile powder

2 Tbsp olive or vegetable oil

10 oz borlotti or other beans, cooked

½ avocado, peeled and diced

Small bunch of cilantro, chopped

2 green onions, chopped

Chile pequin

Salt

Slice the pumpkin into wedges – you don’t need to peel it. Toss with the oil and Chipotle rub & mix, the Chimayo red chile powder and a generous sprinkle of salt. Roast in the hot oven until you can insert a knife easily into the flesh of the pumpkin. If it’s getting a bit too brown, turn the heat down to 350°.

Arrange the pumpkin and beans on a platter. Garnish with the avocado, cilantro or parsley and the green onions and a generous sprinkle of Chile pequin.